Braced for BrexitBMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4724 (Published 14 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4724
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One other factor that might affect the robustness of the supply chain in the UK in the run-up to Brexit is the parallel trade in pharmaceuticals, which allows some companies that distribute medicines to arbitrage price difference for the same medicine in different EU countries.
Within the EU medicines can be bought in a low price country and exported and sold in higher priced countries when an appropriate marketing authorisation has been granted ( a parallel import product licence, or PIPL). Currency fluctuations can cause such imbalances in prices giving rise to opportunities for such arbitrage.
It is quite possible that if the run-up to Brexit continues in the current unpredictable fashion that the pound will further fall in value compared to the euro. This will make exporting medicines from the UK to higher priced markets such as Germany, or indeed most other EU markets even more profitable than it is now for the several companies that specialise in such trading.
In such circumstances it is easy to envisage the extra inventory that the industry has been encouraged by the Department of Health to stock in the UK to ameliorate shortages caused by difficulties in importing non-UK produced medicines could be rapidly depleted even before we get to the Brexit day, 29 March 2019.
Any sensible preparation for a so-called "Hard Brexit" or even No Deal should be dealing with this possibility, as well as the other significant issues mentioned in the article.
Competing interests: I am a Director and employee of a pharmaceutical company, Norgine. The views I express are my own and not necessarily those of the company.